Ladies and gentlemen, start your drones! $20m for racing league

13 Jun 2017

Image: Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

The Drone Racing League has secured its future after a major round of financing saw the entertainment industry get on board.

What are drones for, if not racing against each other in a Wipeout-type ode to the Playstation’s earlier years?

That’s the attitude of the Drone Racing League (DRL), fresh from a successful Series B funding round, ahead of its second season.

Future Human

The Drone Racing League

Let me entertain you

The backers are primarily in the entertainment industry, making this one of the more commercial, customer-facing investments yet.

The total financing was more than $20m, led by Sky, Liberty Media Corporation (owner of Formula 1) and Lux Capital.

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve committed to building a technology company that can capture the imagination of new sports fans around the world,” said Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO and founder of DRL.

“The support we have from some of the most respected brands and investors is helping us rapidly realise that vision.”

Droning on about VR

Drones are big business, with the entertainment industry just one area of focus in 2017. Donegal-based DroneSAR, for example, has developed unique software that it claims will revolutionise the worldwide search-and-rescue industry.

We may also soon have a tracker to keep an eye on the devices delivering drugs in Africa, carrying tonne-loads in China and investigating wind farms in Ireland.

Elsewhere, US VR start-up Nomadic has secured $6m in seed funding, with the money going towards the building of VR hubs in shopping centres and theatres.

Nomadic is looking to build modular headsets so that various experiences can be interchangeable. This means the original hubs can remain, with an almost cartridge-like supply of new VR experiences changing over time.

Track to basics

In other funding news, Indian start-up HyperTrack, a company that tracks products and people in real time, has raised $7m in a Series A round.

Led by VC firms Nexus Venture Partners and Founders Fund, HyperTrack provides simple APIs for developers to build dynamic location features (tracking, metering, trip replays) and live ETAs.

In the US, e-signature company HelloSign has raised $16m in Series B funding, led by Foundry Group and Zach Coelius.

“We’ve succeeded in building a fast-growing and cashflow-positive business built with only a modest amount of funding. Now we’re ready to pour fuel on the fire,” said Joseph Walla, CEO and co-founder of HelloSign.

“This is an inflection point; we’ve already been growing rapidly, and now we’re going to accelerate that growth by aggressively investing in the talent and technology necessary to define the next generation of digital workflow for the enterprise.”

Medtech closure

Earlier today, NeoSurgical, an Irish medtech start-up, raised $5.5m in a Series B funding round.

Headquartered in Galway (an area renowned for medtech innovation), the company’s initial product is NeoClose, approved for sale in the US and Europe, and designed to be the new standard for laparoscopic surgery port-site closure, a potential $400m opportunity.

The initial close of the Series B financing will be used to expand the development, manufacturing and commercialisation of the company’s NeoClose product platform, which is understood to be changing the standard of care in port-site closures in operations.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic